Leaders UAE 2020: Building a sustainable, 'resilient' infra

AESG’s Phillipa Grant, Burohappold’s Farah Naz, and Samana's Imran Farooq on a sustainable built environment

AESG’s Phillipa Grant, Burohappold’s Farah Naz, and Samana Group's Imran Farooq speak with Ashley Williams
AESG’s Phillipa Grant, Burohappold’s Farah Naz, and Samana Group's Imran Farooq speak with Ashley Williams

Construction Week shone the spotlight on sustainability on the first day of the Leaders in Construction UAE Virtual Summit for the second panel titled 'Building for a sustainable future', as part of the two-day conference.

As part of the panel, AESG’s director of energy and sustainable development, Phillipa Grant, Burohappold’s head of innovation and sustainable solution, Farah Naz, and Samana Developer’s chief executive officer Imran Farooq, shared their insights on what makes buildings sustainable.

Achieving a sustainable built environment

"It is important to identify the key principles that you want to achieve from the design and equally important to keep the targets for sustainability streamlined," Grant advised. 

When technology meets sustainability

Interestingly, the second panel married the elements of technology, discussed in the previous session, with sustainability. 

"In construction, technological concepts such as 3D modeling, digital twin, virtual reality, robotics, and BIM are collaborating to make the processes faster. Due to the pandemic, we have realised the flexibility we have with the use of drones to conduct site visits," Naz said. 

On the route to attaining SDGs

Pointing to the Arab Sustainable Development Goals Report which was released in 2019, Naz stated that the UAE was ranked second among all listed countries, hitting three SDGs, including clean water and sanitation, growth of the economy, industry innovation and infrastructure. To accelerate this, the focus must be placed on building a "resilient infrastructure," she added.

Sustainable responsibility 

Speaking of initiatives to promote sustainable development to be in line with the UAE's vision to build sustainability awareness, Farooq said: "The onus should not be only on the private sector. The government has to step in, regulate and enforce incentive schemes such as duty free and VAT free import for green-certified buildings. The sustainable buildings sector in Dubai is lacking an energy efficiency score. There should be a mechanism set by the authority."

Focusing on sustainability with a financial lens, Naz said: "Forming public private partnerships can reduce the risk and meet targets for carbon emissions. Moreover, impact investing as part of socially responsible investing is gaining momentum.

In a COVID-19 impacted market where business continuity and operations is most at stake, where is sustainability ranked and who from the industry is responsible for building a sustainable future? 

"Businesses that are going to survive are those that place utmost priority on sustainability. Sustainability is important not just from a resource-efficient environment but also from a financial sustainability perspective," Grant said. 

"Ensuring a sustainable built environment is a shared responsibility," Naz concluded, adding that there needs to be incentivisation to accelerate this.

Day 2 of the conference will begin on 16 September with Stakeholder Collaboration with ALEC’s CEO Kez Taylor, Cundall’s managing director and partner, Richard Stratton, and Pinsent Masons' head of Middle East, Catherine Workman.

The conference will end with the Knowing Your Rights panel featuring HKA’s partner Haroon Niazi, Reed Smith’s head of Middle East, Sachin Kerur, and Pinsent Masons' head of risk advisory services for the Middle East, Mark Raymont.

To register, click here to make sure you are part of our exciting conference.

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